We’ve all been to the doctor and gotten a blood test. It’s a smart thing to do periodically if you care about your health. Well, if you also care about the health and performance of your car, truck or SUV, then it’s a good idea to get your vehicle’s fluids checked out every once in awhile. The motor oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid and radiator coolant all play important roles. Then, you have one of the most important fluids in your vehicle: the transmission fluid. It keeps the components inside the transmission properly lubricated and cooled while the vehicle is running.
Types of Transmission Fluid
First, it’s important to note there are different types of fluids for different types of transmissions. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is the most common and it’s used in standard automatic transmissions and in some manual transmissions. Other manual transmissions might use a variety of fluids. Then, there is continuously variable transmission (CVT) fluid that is used in many modern CVT transmissions. Always make sure the right type of transmission fluid is being used in your vehicle or it will ultimately experience problems. For the purposes of this article, we will talk primarily about automatic transmission fluid. However, the same basic tips will apply no matter what transmission fluid you utilize.
Transmission Fluid Color
Again, colors may vary based on the type of transmission fluid, but most automatic transmission fluids will be a bright red color that is translucent in appearance. If you check your transmission fluid reservoir (transmission pan) and notice that the fluid is discolored in any way, it is a sign that there could be something wrong within your transmission. It could be milky, cloudy, dirty, burned/dark or filled with debris or metal shavings. In many cases, discolored transmission fluid just means you are overdue for a standard transmission service, which involves cleaning the pan and replacing the transmission fluid, filter and pan gasket. In other cases, it could mean there is more significant internal damage. If you do ever notice metal shavings in the fluid itself, that is cause for concern.
Transmission Fluid Leak
Another way to tell that you might have a transmission issue is to look under the vehicle. Any leaking fluid should be taken seriously, but especially transmission fluid. There could be a crack in the transmission housing or pan, a deteriorated gasket or rear main engine seal, or damage to one of the transmission fluid lines. If a leak persists, your vehicle will ultimately be dangerously low on transmission fluid and things will only get worse from there. You can also check the fluid level and take note if it is lower than it should be. At the first sign of a transmission fluid leak, you will want to bring your car to a transmission specialist for a full inspection and maintenance/repairs.
If you care about your vehicle, you will want to get your transmission inspected periodically. An expert transmission technician will be able to inspect the transmission fluid and other components to make everything is working correctly. If not, they can recommend the necessary maintenance or repairs to resolve any potential problems. You can read one of our other articles about common signs of transmission damage.
In the Central Valley, the transmission shop to turn to is Ralph’s Transmission. We’re located in downtown Modesto and we are here to serve all your transmission and drivetrain repair, maintenance and inspection needs. In fact, we offer free initial transmission inspections along with free towing if you live within a 30-mile radius of our facility. Just give Ralph’s Transmission a call at 209.526.1909 or schedule your service appointment online.